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   Chapter 17 No.17

Drusilla with a Million By Elizabeth Cooper Characters: 12122

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


"Come right on to the stoop, Dr. Eaton, and let's set down and cool off. I'm real het up."

Drusilla settled down in a big porch rocker and fanned herself with the paper in her hand.

"Now let's talk, and you tell me all about it. What did you say that last club was we was to? You been a-takin' me to so many places lately that I fergit their names."

"That was the big Socialists Club."

"Socialists-yes, that's what you called it. Ain't them got something to do with dynamite bombs and blowin' up people and things?"

Dr. Eaton laughed.

"No; you are thinking of Nihilists or Anarchists. These people are very mild; they only have ideas how to run the old world in a new way, and they are especially interested in the question of labor and capital."

"Well, they've idees enough, if that's all they need. But it seems to me, Dr. Eaton, that these people are all going at it wrong-end-to. Instid of workin' with people in bunches, they want to take 'em man by man and git a little of the old-fashioned religion into each one singly. There's two commandments give us to live by. One is, we should love God; the other is to love our neighbor as ourself. Now, if each one got that second command planted deep in his heart, the hired man'd do his work as it ought to be done, and the man who hires him'd pay him right-so there wouldn't be no need of Socialists or Unions or dynamite bombs. No, you can't make people do the right thing by laws, and you can't put love in their hearts by meetings and committees and talk. Each man must git it for himself and then he'll do the square thing because he wants to, not 'cause he's forced to. You can make laws against thievin' and build prisons to put men in who steal, but if you don't change a man's heart, if he wants to be a thief he'll find some way o' doin' it-prisons or no prisons."

She was silent a few moments; then she chuckled softly to herself.

"I wanted to laugh when you introduced me as a woman who wanted to give away a million dollars. Why, I thought fer a minute I'd be run down, if one was to judge by their eyes. But they kind of caamed down when they learnt I wanted to find a way to leave it in my will so's it'd do the most good, instead of givin' it away right there in five-dollar bills. By the looks of a lot of 'em they could 'a' used it right then in gettin' a hair cut and a good meal of vittles."

"Yes; some of them do look rather lank and hungry; but there are some very clever men among them."

"They certainly talked a lot. Who was that young man who talked so much and then got me into a corner. He was kind o' wild-eyed."

"That's Swinesky, a Russian Jew."

"A Roosian! I always heerd tell that them Roosians know what to do with other people's money-and a Jew too! Well-well-and I got away without spending nothin'. He told me a lot of ways to spend my money, but most of 'em sounded like-like-what is it you call it-"

"Hot air."

"That's jest the word-hot air. They all was perfectly willin' to tell me what to do with it, as it wasn't there'n, but what I want is to find a man with an idee that he'd think good enough to carry out if the money was his'n. We've talked with a lot of people about the best way to dispose of my money where it'd do the most good, and most of their plans wouldn't hold water. But it's good of you, Dr. Eaton, to take me round, and I git a little idee here and another there, and some day maybe I'll find the right one.

"I see the newspapers is takin' up now what I'm askin' everybody. 'What will she do with her Million Dollars?' They'll git a lot of answers, 'cause every one's got an idee what they'd do if they had that money.

"But let's not talk of it no more-my head buzzes. I dream of it at nights and see it all hangin' round the bedposts, and a lot of people takin' it that I don't want to, and me not bein' able to git up and chase 'em away. Tell me about that loan you asked me about last night, and I didn't have time to talk."

Dr. Eaton sat up, interested in a moment.

"Do you remember my telling you about the man who has the button factory in Yonkers?"

"He is the man who wants two thousand dollars, isn't he?" asked Drusilla.

"Yes," said Dr. Eaton. "And I have been to see him and I think it is a poor loan unless his business is looked into more closely. Now, Miss Doane, I have an idea. My friend, Frank Stillman, has just started into business as an efficiency engineer."

"What's that?" asked Drusilla, interested at once in anything new.

"He makes it his business to study firms that are going to the wall and locate their trouble and puts them on their feet again, if possible. I took him with me to Mr. Panoff, and I believe he could go there a while and find out what the difficulty is. It used to be a good business when Panoff bought it, but he seems to have lost his grip some way, and he can't see far enough ahead because he is so crowded by the daily troubles. An outsider will be able to see with a better perspective."

"Are we goin' to let this Mr. Panoff have the money?"

"No; not at present. Here is my scheme. I want you to put Frank in there for a time and let him find out if there are any possibilities of getting the business back on its feet. If Frank succeeds, we will let Panoff have the money on his personal note, if he agrees to follow out the suggestions of Frank.

"I have another idea that I have been thinking about. There are a lot of small business ventures that are running to seed, where the owner is getting discouraged, and lacks the broad outlook that would keep him going, and needs some one who is a professional setter-up like Frank, to put him wise, and to readjust his business. I suggest that we hire Frank, for at least a part of his time-he won't be expensive, as he is just starting-to look into the affairs of the men who come to us for money. The owner must agree to allow Frank to readjust things for him, and then when his affairs are prospering again, he will pay a certain sum for Frank's services, taking the expens

e away from us. It is also a better guarantee for our loan, because Frank is a pretty level-headed business man and if there are any possibilities in the run down business, he will find them, and if there are not he will report to us. What do you think of it?"

"I think it is a good thing; but is there enough things like that to keep him busy?"

"Well, we need take only a part of his time; but I can think of half a dozen little manufacturers who would welcome the chance to find out what is wrong. That publishing house I was telling you about. The manager is impractical, is paying too much out in salaries, hasn't any method in his establishment, and has a dozen leaks that he can't find, but which could easily be located by a professional leak finder. There are a lot of men in business who are honest and willing to work, but who are in a rut and can't see the new things coming, and who could be put on their feet by an injection of a little outside ginger and a readjustment of their business on more modern methods. They are the ones who need help and who will be good for their loans; and that's one thing we are going to try to make sure of, because we aren't going to give any money away if we know it. It's going to be a real service too, Miss Doane. I don't think there is anything more pitiful than a man, who has been in business for himself, to have to give up and say he is a failure. It hurts to be compelled to go into some one's shop as a clerk or mechanic when you've once been your own master. It'll put jasm into a lot of men that have lost their nerve and only need some one to set them straight. You won't lose by it, Miss Doane; I am sure of that."

"I ain't thinkin' about that. Yet I ain't makin' a charity; it's a business, and I don't want a lot of salaried people to eat up everything. That's too much like most of them charities we looked into. I want this a business that'll sound sensible and that'll be sensible, and I don't want a lot of failures to think they can work us. I want 'em to find that they got the wrong pig by the ear if they try to do the Doane fund.

"Bring that young man Frank to me and let me look him over. I ain't very worldly, but I like to look a man in the eye if he's going to do something for me. I want the men who's goin' to be with us, ambitious, upright young men that's willin' to work. I hate a lazy man-I can tell one a mile off. A lazy man's worse'n a dead one, 'cause a dead one's put away and can't do no harm while a lazy one's always around, spoilin' the ambitious one's work.

"Now, we won't talk business no more. Let's go into the yard. Daphne is there with some of the babies. Let's go out to her."

Dr. Eaton hesitated.

"I think I had better be going on to the hospital. I-I-"

Drusilla looked up at him quickly.

"Dr. Eaton, what's the matter with you? I don't understand young men of to-day nohow. Here I been for more'n a year tryin' to have you and Daphne see somethin' of each other, riskin' her father takin' my head off, and now you shy off as if you thought she would bite you. Don't you like my little girl?"

Dr. Eaton flushed under the clear brown of his tan.

"It isn't that, Miss Doane. You must know what I think of Daphne."

"Well, what is it, then? You're clear beyond me."

"Well-well-" and the doctor hesitated.

"Well, go on. Tell me all about it."

"It's this way, Miss Doane. I'm only a poor doctor without much of a practise, and it'll take me several years to work into a good one. And Daphne-you know how she has been brought up-and the kind of things she is used to having-and the crowd she goes with-"

"What's that got to do with it?"

"I-you must see, Miss Doane-that I can't give Daphne the things she is used to and that she'd quite likely expect as a matter of course-not that she is any more mercenary than any of the rest of the girls of her set, but she doesn't understand not being rich-she has never known anything else-"

"Oh, stuff and nonsense! I know Daphne."

"Yes, but her people; her father-and, O Lord, Miss Doane-her mother-"

"I confess she is some pill to take; but there's one consolation-you don't have to live with your mother-in-law in these times, and you ain't marryin' the hull family. Is that all?"

"No-but, then-"

"But then what? There is somethin' else?"

"Yes, there is, Miss Doane. I guess-I-I am old-fashioned, but I want a home-wife-a woman who'll love babies, and have them and not feel that they are an impediment to her career. I-I'm-a little dippy on children-I guess-"

He laughed a little shamefacedly. "I want babies in my home-babies that'll climb around me when I come from work-boys and girls that I can love and do for and see grow up into men and women, that'll make me feel that I have really done something for the world-and-and the way Daphne's been brought up-well, her set don't believe in babies-and-rather think motherhood is degrading-and-"

They had came to a corner of the veranda overlooking the part of the lawn where a merry group of little children were playing ring-a-round-a-rosy, and a tall, laughing girl was standing in the middle of the ring, her face flushed, her eyes sparkling, as the clear young voice sang the simple play song. The doctor's face softened and he forgot what he was saying. They stood there a while, watching the happy group. Then, the children becoming tired of the game, Daphne sat down in a rocking-chair under a tree, and they grouped themselves around her feet. She took one of the tiniest into her lap and, cuddling it against her breast, began to rock slowly backward and forward. The words of the old lullaby came softly:

"Rock-a-bye, baby,

On the tree-top,

When the wind blows

The cradle will rock-"

Drusilla looked up at Dr. Eaton and her face broke into tiny little love wrinkles as she saw the look on his face. She put her faded old hands on his shoulders and looked into his eyes for a long moment; then she said softly:

"Go on, my boy; and God bless you!"

And the doctor went.

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